The ITB Berlin Convention is the international tourism industry’s leading think tank – science head Prof. Dr. Roland Conrady gives his verdict three months after the event.
Prof. Dr. Conrady – the ITB Berlin Convention has become the international tourism industry’s leading think tank. What do you think makes it so unique?
First of all, our focus is on the forward-looking topics of the global tourism industry as well as on presenting our visitors each year with a whole range of outstanding speakers. Despite the broad range of topics concerning all areas of the tourism market we are able to dwell on them in great detail. The ITB Berlin Convention generates substantial added value as it is free of charge for visitors. Another factor is that we continue to be innovative in our choice of lecture and discussion formats, so that we are evolving all the time.
In what way has the convention changed in recent years?
Our convention formats have developed over the years so that the ITB Berlin Convention’s leading role has continued to grow. Besides addressing topics that concern the industry it consciously sets trends, thus significantly influencing developments in the tourism industry.
What is your verdict following this year’s convention?
In retrospect, I think we can be proud of an unmatched list of leading speakers at the event. It is also to their credit that the convention has become firmly established with global decision-makers. Relocating to the CityCube, our new venue, was an all-round success as well. The response from visitors to our ‘new home’ was very positive. Their numbers remained stable despite the move.
In 2019 global warming and sustainability were among the main topics. Which speakers made an impression on you?
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research clearly stood out. He enjoys an extremely high reputation in science and politics at national and international level. His fact-laden and very perceptive keynote speech impressed the audience and was much talked about afterwards.
How do you think a growing environmental awareness will influence future travel?
Even though we can only take a limited guess at how environmental awareness will develop, the signs currently point to travel behaviour changing substantially. That also applies to organising and choosing a destination. The global study presented exclusively by Travelzoo and ITB Berlin showed that sustainability will be one of the main decision criteria in the future.
In addition to other topics the convention also focused on new attitudes to luxury. What were the main takeaways in your view?
Customers are now less interested in material wealth and more in non-material values. Newcomers to the high-end market now have completely different ideas. Instead of status symbols and exhibiting their wealth they increasingly prefer a secluded atmosphere and exclusiveness.
Looking to the future – where do you see the ITB Berlin Convention in five or even ten years?
We have set ourselves an ambitious, but nevertheless realistic goal: in the future we want the ITB Berlin Convention to be to the travel industry what the World Economic Forum is to the global economy.